Star role for magical realism in Caribbean museum

May 2009 -

The Museo del Caribe was opened in Barranquilla, Colombia, on 24 April 2009. It is that country's first regional museum. The museum's main attraction is to be the Gabriel Garcia Márquez room, which will be opened later this year. The small town of Macondo in Cien Anos de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) is modelled after Márquez's Caribbean birthplace, Aracataca. The exhibits in the 'Gabo room' will include translations of the Nobel prize winner's books. The editorial room of El Heraldo de Barranquilla, the regional daily for which the author was once journalist and columnist, has also been reconstructed.

In the museum's other five rooms, modern media including interactive games and video screens towering to sixteen meters are used to exhibit the Caribbean's unique mixed culture. La Naturaleza centres around the Caribbean's biodiversity, and in La Gent visitors can use interactive resources to see how the region's Mestizo population evolved from the mixture of African, European, Asian and indigenous populations. La Palabra is devoted to the poetry, partly oral, of the art region and La Acción to daily life.

Many foreign visitors, however, will only have eyes for 'Gabo' and for La Expresión, where the centre stage is devoted to the wide diversity of the types of music and dance in the Caribbean. According to the governor of the Atlantic region, Eduardo Verano de la Rosa, the museum will become a meeting place for the entire Caribbean region. The museum is a part of the Parque Cultural del Caribe, a 22,000 m2 park that is also home to a children's library, and open-air theatre and a mediatheque.

Future additions are the Documentation Centre on the Caribbean, a Cinematheque of the Caribbean and a Congress Centre. The museum building - a large cube - was designed by the architect Ciancarlo Mazzanti, a Barranquilla resident whose work has won a variety of international awards.